North Atlantic Drift – Departures Vol. 1

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The North Atlantic Drift is a warm-air current that pushes the Gulf Stream north east. It packs a pretty decent punch too. We can thank this freak of nature for carrying more tropical water our way than any other coastline current.

The Toronto duo that’s chosen to record under the same name is similarly moving. Brad Deschamps and Mike Abercrombie produce experimental, ambient and electronic music that is as warm and elegant as it is challenging.

Departures Vol. 1 is the pair’s fifth long-player. It’s a disc any electronic act would be proud to claim ownership of. Deschamps and Abercrombie balance lush drones and synth washes against a pile of guitar and noise effects.

“Most of the tracks are built around Juno synth pads and tones, or guitars processed through a few effects pedals and reverb,” Deschamps told me in an email interview. “There’s an old string synth on a couple of tracks – particularly on ‘March to the Capital’ – and one of the new Roland Jupiter synthesizers as well. The field recordings are most prominent on ‘Departure,’ which includes something I recorded walking in the rain with traffic passing by.”

It’s these recordings and noise effects that make the recording special. They anchor the minimalist synth playing. Pieced together, the result is layered and deeply textured. Departures Vol. 1 will make you want to upgrade your headphones.

“With previous releases, we’ve often added percussion and other electronics, glockenspiel and more prominent guitar,” said Deschamps. “But gradually we’ve been more interested in subtle textures and ambience.  I think with this release we’ve achieved a sound that is really in line with our common interests in ambient music, more textured pads and slowly evolving soundscapes. I think our love of [Brian] Eno, Tangerine Dream, [Angelo] Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks score and Stars of the Lid really influenced this record.”

Departures Vol. 1 is available on the band’s own Polar Seas Recordings.

Kevin Press

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